In a more perfect world, Brian Banks would have been playing linebacker in a rookie minicamp about five years ago after he wrapped up a collegiate football career at USC.
A false accusation of rape resulted in a jail sentence, though, and Banks had to wait a long time for the truth to come to light. He was finally exonerated, got a brief shot in the UFL before that league fell apart and now he’s getting a chance to play with the Falcons. The extended layoff didn’t quell Banks’ belief that he could be an NFL starter and he’s getting a chance to show his stuff during this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
Banks has been calling defensive signals for the Falcons on the practice field and said that things have been going well even as he’s made the mistakes that every first-year NFL player makes when they’re put on the professional stage.
“It was real good today to get out there. I’ve been in film the last two weeks so to get a chance to get out there and put all the knowledge that we’ve been putting on paper out onto the field was a really good experience for the first time,” Banks said, via the Falcons website. “It was really fast-paced. I made a lot of really good moves, made a lot of mistakes, so adjustments will be made.”
The way Banks has handled the nightmarish circumstances that sent him to prison make him very easy to root for whether or not you’re a Falcons fan. That likability also makes it possible for a team to give him a cursory shot out of goodwill. Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said that wouldn’t be the case in Atlanta and, happily, it looks like things are playing out that way.